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Kenyan runners ready to defend their titles at New York marathon

Sept. 7, 2016 (Xinhua) — Robert Biwott of Kenya celebrates victory after the men’s 1500 meters race at the IAAF World Challenge Zagreb, Croatia on Sept 7, 2016. Biwott won  the race with 3 minutes and 37.35 seconds.(Xinhua/Miso Lisanin)
NAIROBI, Sept. 15 (Xinhua) — Reigning champions Stanley Biwott and Mary Keitany will put their Olympic frustrations behind as they lead the elite fields for the New York Marathon on Nov 6.
Biwott is the fastest runner in the field with a lifetime best of 2:03:51 set in the London Marathon in April and he will be aiming to bounce back from poor show at the Rio Olympic marathon, where he did not finish the race.
“I will have recovered after my performance in Rio. As I said, my poor show was down to some poor organization by the Kenya team, who mixed up my special water. Now I want to prove my critics wrong and New York is a worthy course to do just that,” said Biwott on Thursday from Eldoret.
Other top international names in the field include world champion Ghirmay Ghebreslassie, former two-time Boston Marathon champion Lelisa Desisa, Hamburg Marathon champion Lucas Rotich and top track runner Moses Kipsiro from Uganda.
“New York is special to me because it was here I won my first title in the Abbott World Marathon Majors,” said Biwott.
“After last year, my name has been spread worldwide, and I have been considered among the top athletes in the world. That’s why I always like to return to New York, where I left a piece of my heart.”
In the women’s race, Keitany faces team-mates Joyce Chepkirui, Gladys Cherono and Sally Kipyego, last year’s runner-up Aselefech Mergia from Ethiopia and team-mate Buzunesh Deba.
Molly Huddle, Kim Conley, Kellyn Taylor, Janet Bawcom and Sara Hall are among the top Americans in the field while Olympic triathlon champion Gwen Jorgensen is also due to make her debut.
Keitany has won the New York City Marathon for the past two years. A victory this year would make her the first woman to win three consecutive New York City Marathon titles since Grete Waitz claimed five straight wins from 1982 to 1986.
Keitany is the second-fastest woman in history and holds the African record of 2:18:37. The 34-year-old has also twice won the London Marathon and took gold at the 2009 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships.
“I am very excited again to go to New York and defend my title. I am happy that I will get to try to defend for the third time, because I have won in 2014 and 2015,” said Keitany.
“This year, I am very excited and happy that, if it is possible, I can win for the third time and can make history. If you win two or three times, it is not easy. If you do it, you can make history.”
Both defending champions will face a top international field. After Keitany, Gladys Cherono owns the second-fastest time in the women’s elite field.
Her winning time of 2:19:25 at the 2015 Berlin Marathon also makes her the seventh-fastest marathon runner of all time.
The 33-year-old Kenyan won gold at the 2014 World Half Marathon Championships and silver over 10,000m at the 2013 IAAF World Championships.
Aselefech Mergia finished second in New York City last year. The 31-year-old Ethiopian is a three-time winner of the Dubai Marathon and has a PB of 2:19:31.
Two-time Honolulu Marathon winner Joyce Chepkirui will be making her New York City Marathon debut. The 28-year-old Kenyan won last year’s Amsterdam Marathon in a PB of 2:24:11 and finished third at this year’s Boston Marathon.
Sally Kipyego earned silver medals in the 10,000m at both the 2012 Olympics and 2011 World Championships. The 30-year-old Kenyan made her marathon debut in New York City last year, but did not finish.


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